Worms W.M.D. On PC
For twenty-one years now, the Worms franchise has burrowed its way into the hearts of many, and it has done so relatively quietly. The relentless tides of change have crashed and battered against the foundations that Team 17 laid back in 1994, but, aside from the odd few missteps, nothing has been able to drastically alter the purity and fiendishness of the original idea. Tweaking and polishing are Team 17’s best weapons, while straying too far from the established formula has been their undoing at times.
The franchise premise is a charming one: you take control of a team of four invertebrate soldiers, and face off against another team, taking turns to blow each other up using a variety of some of the most insane weaponry in all of gaming.
Worms W.M.D. is a re-packaging of Worms Armageddon (the series’ high point) with some bright new additions that goes back to the basics. Gone are the worm classes introduced with Worms Revolution. The landscape can be read with a single glance once again. The gameplay is still the same blend of tactics, chaos, and hilarity. Aside from new weapons, new hats, and new environments, the main additions here are crafting, being able to explore building interiors, and vehicles.
Crafting is fairly simple to do once you get the hang of it, but it does have some issues. The crafting menu isn’t the clearest, and early on you will make the majority of your discoveries at the expense of most of your turn time. You can collect supplies, or dismantle your weapons for parts, and use these parts to create new weapons and items. You can set something to craft as you tend to your explosive duties elsewhere, and your shiny new toy will be waiting for you on your next turn. These can be as hilariously daft as the Two-Handed Prod, or as devastating as the Mega Bunker Buster. It doesn’t get in the way at all, and it adds a delicious new layer of strategy that you have the choice to either take or leave.
Buildings will appeal to the defensive-minded strategists that play the long game. When entering a structure the walls will dissolve and you will see a cross-section of the inside. Once your turn is up your opponent will not be able to see you, which introduces a nice element of hide and seek. The only issue being that it isn’t always clear which structures are the interactive ones.
Hulking, powerful tanks, devastating attack helicopters – the vehicles are quick and easy to get the hang of. Some are capable of unleashing hell, others can zip you around the map with ease and speed. You will take significant damage if a vehicle explodes with you inside, and your opponents can chuck you out and hop in themselves when their turn comes around.
Your time is best spent in multiplayer. While the game offers online play, the most fun you’ll have with Worms W.M.D. is locally with up to four players. There is nothing quite like the feverish, outrageous, and hilarious fun as you frantically try to outwit and outgun your friends. The game is as much about what goes wrong as what goes right. There is a cathartic joy in watching the best laid plans of worms and friends go awry, often with explosive results. It’s the same feeling as when someone topples a Jenga tower. It’s as fun to lose as it is to win. It is in the midst of an evening spent laughing with your friends that you see why the series has been around for more than twenty years.
The single-player revolves around the campaign, which is made up of a series of challenge levels which grant rewards upon completion. Complete a level by killing a particular worm say, only you may be asked to do it in a certain time, in a certain way, without taking any damage etc. Completing all the objectives will net you rewards that carry over into the multiplayer such as new accents for your troops, new hats, new tombstones and more. It’s surprisingly robust, offering a surfeit of gameplay types whilst training your skills. The only inconsistency is the one that has dogged the series since its inception – Computer AI. At times close-range missiles will pass way over your head and at other times, the computer will line up a trick-shot with impossible accuracy from across the map and send you spinning into the water below.
There is something very New Coke about the whole thing. Worms W.M.D. is a return to the classic recipe and it never tasted so sweet, but you can’t help but feel as though it wouldn’t be as effective had the series not been messed around with as much as it has. However, as it stands, Worms W.M.D. is the best game in the series. It builds on the winning design of Armageddon, makes well-thought out and balanced new additions, and presents it all to you in a charming and vibrant cartoon style that lives up to your lying memories of 1999.
Score: 4/5 – Great